Sine qua non-sense
Work, play, and criticism
in Thomas Hood and nineteenth-century poetry
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This chapter examines the relationship between Thomas Hood's engagement with the subject of recreation and the changing face of work. Hood's play offers a counter discourse, rooted in intimacy and childhood memory, to the inhumane rhythms of incessant and mechanical work. Hood's writing at the London Magazine is concerned with issues of public order and the growing number of restrictions on public behaviour in city streets. In articulating and mediating the relationship between middle-class leisure and working-class labour, Hood provided a model for many other nineteenth-century writers and artists. The Sabbatarian movement was prominent and powerful in early nineteenth-century Britain; it opposed Sunday labour and secular Sunday leisure pursuits that associated with intemperance and impiety. One of the most acute challenges that Hood makes to academic critics is that the fact that analysing literature is our work may blind us to the elemental function of poetry as play.

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